When the Queen drove through Chesham in 1952

With the sad passing of her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II in 2022, many local people could still recall 70 years before when Her Majesty the Queen drove through Chesham. This is the story.

Queen inspecting troops at Halton
The Queen inspects the troops at Halton


It was announced that on Friday, July 25th 1952, Her Majesty the Queen was due to present a flag called the Queen’s Colour to No 1 School of Technical Training at Halton, near Aylesbury.  A route was announced in some of the local newspapers, which gave the scheduled times of arrival at different locations in the Chilterns.  Local police were notified, and with advanced notice some schools closed to let the children to see Queen drive past, and some were given the rest of the day off.

The Queen in Amersham

The Queen left Windsor Castle, and drove to Beaconsfield and then came down Gore Hill and arrived in Amersham at 10:15am.  The Queen was driven in a Rolls Royce accompanied by her lady in waiting Margaret Hay.  Her car was following a police car driven by two high-ranking police officers.  She then went up Station Road, through Amersham-on-the-Hill. Rita Mason remembers seeing her in Amersham, and Bryan Collins who was only 2 when he saw her, and was told about it later in life by his mother. 

The Queen in Chesham

Queen Elizabeth inside her car
HRH Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen was then driven and onto Chesham where she arrived at 10:25am.  The route came through Chesham and down Red Lion Street.  Here, Eleanor Phillips recalls standing and waiting for the car and watching it drive past when she was 9.  The car then drove through the High Street and through the Broadway, where Ian Bateman remembers seeing her, and then along Broad Street, where Hilary Povey remembers standing on the pavement as her car drove by. 

The royal car then drove down Berkhampstead Road.  Children of Newtown School lined the road and Jim Cargill remembers being one of them, and Linda Brown also had a good view. Keith Fletcher recalled “I was waiting for her in Berkhampstead Road. As we looked towards the town we saw the crowd had all started waving and cheering. We thought here she comes, but no it was a farmer on a tractor. Having a bit of a laugh I think.”  The car then left Chesham going up Nashleigh Hill, through Ashley Green, where Heather Collins remembers seeing here drive past when she was 4. As the car left Bucks she was driven onto Berkhamsted and then Tring and passed through at 11:15.

At each place, the streets were lined with flags and bunting, and schoolchildren lined the roads near their schools, many waving flags.  Elderly people took their place in kitchen chairs, deck chairs and camping stools.  Office workers and shop workers came outside their places of employment and chatted whilst they waited for the car to drive by.  People only got a brief glimpse of the Queen smiling and waving, but many felt it was worth it, and many remember it to this day.

The Queen in Halton

From Tring the royal car arrived outside Halton at 11.05 am. The route then took them to Halton House. The Royal car left the Officers’ Mess at 11.25 a.m. and proceeded via Upper Icknield Way to the parade ground at Halton, where the Queen was driven in an open top RAF Land Rover which was flying her standard. 

She stood upright in the back of the Land Rover for three quarters of an hour whilst she inspected 1,700 Royal Air Force apprentices aged 16 to 18, who stood to attention. It was reported that four fainted in the heat. 

For a while a welcome breeze was blowing, and people noticed that the Queen held onto her hat with one hand, and used the other to brush away a persistent wasp which was buzzing around her head.  The colours were consecrated by Rev Canon L Wright Chaplain in Chief to the Royal Air Force, and were then presented to colour-bearer Sgt.-App. F.M.A. Hines who knelt before her. 

Also present were some American servicemen and some RAF Apprentices from around the Commonwealth especially Pakistan. The apprentices then marched off the parade ground.  At 12.15 the Queen returned by the same route to Halton House for lunch.  The whole thing was recorded on film by Pathé and can be seen on YouTube, lasting about 9 minutes.

Newspaper excerpt with the title "The Queen to visit Halton Camp"
Newspaper excerpt with the title "Queen at Halton"

The Queen in Wendover

After lunch Her Majesty the Queen left Halton House at 2:45 p.m. and slowly drove through Wendover.  The streets were lined with flags and bunting, and representatives of British Legion branches from around Bucks and lined the streets of Wendover, and as the car passed their lowered their banners. 

The car then made a detour through part of the married quarters area and P.M. R.A.F. Hospital grounds on the way.  They then drove through Great Missenden and came through Amersham again at about 3.15pm, with cheering crowds as the young Queen drove slowly through, before returning to Beaconsfield and Windsor.

It was a hot day and the sky was blue without a cloud in sight.  Thousands lined the route. 208 policemen were on duty in Halton and Wendover, and voluntary St John Ambulance first aiders were on duty in the heat.

Message of Thanks

The Lord Lieutenant of Bucks, Lord Cottesloe received a message of appreciation from Buckinghams Palace, which was from the Queen via her Private Secretary, Sgd. M.E Adeane and dated the same day.  This was published in some local newspapers.  It read:

“When the Queen returned from Halton yesterday Her Majesty told me to let you know how very pleased she had been to see many of the people of south Buckinghamshire on her journeys to and from Halton. There was really a remarkable display of enthusiasm and hunting in all the small towns through which Her Majesty passed. The Queen would very glad if you would convey her thanks all in the county who assisted in the arrangements for her visit and particularly to your police who managed the rather intricate route with great skill”


Bucks Examiner, Bucks Herald, Bucks Advertiser, Pathe films
memories shared on OurChesham Facebook page following my appeal.

About the author

Neil Rees

Neil Rees lives locally and has had a long love of local history. His main interests are family history, wartime exile groups living in Bucks, the history of local faith communities and the history of Chesham and Ley Hill. He writes a fortnightly local history Nostalgia page for the Amersham and Chesham edition of the Bucks Free Press newspaper, which is usually on page 12. He wrote "The Czech Connection" about the story of the wartime Czechoslovak community in Bucks which was translated into Czech. He also wrote "A Royal Exile" about King Zog of Albania in exile in Bucks during the war, which was translated into Albanian and made into a 2-part documentary for Albanian television. He also wrote "The Church by the Woods" the story of St George's Church at Tylers HIll and "The Chapel on the Green, the story of Ley Hill Methodist church. He gives talks at many local groups such as local history societies, WIs, church groups, Rotary Clubs etc

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